tv ABC World News With Diane Sawyer ABC March 6, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PST
welcome to "world news." tonight, tightening the grip. the dangerous showdown with russia. america sending fighter jets to the region. and martha raddatz has the news about what is next, tonight. body blow. a defeat for the people challenging military commanders on their authority over sexual assault in their ranks. >> this problem isn't even close to being solved. and desperate to stop her. >> she's talking about jesus. and that there's demons in my house. and that i'm trying to control her but i'm trying to keep them safe. >> tonight, the story behind those pictures. the people who tried to keep that mother from putting her children at risk. and a good evening to you on this thursday night.
we begin with a fast and unpredictable developments in the showdown with russia. today, president obama's challenge to russia's invasion of ukraine, and deploying fighter jets to the region. russian president vladimir putin, digging in. and there is word, tonight, that the two of them have spoken. but all of this is creating new concern that the world's superpowers are being pushed into a dangerous corner. and abc's chief global affairs correspondent, martha raddatz, on the crisis and what is happening right now. >> reporter: the crisis escalating with dizzying speed. tonight, pro-russian protesters in eastern ukraine tried to knock over a bus. as the russians tighten their grip around the crimean peninsula. in just the past 24 hours, a high-stakes game of chess. pro-russian authorities push crimea's parliament to call for a vote to officially become part of russia. the u.s. calls that illegal and
moves forward with sanctions. the russians tighten their grip on crimea, sealing the borders and using a sunken ship to block a port. the u.s. sends fighter jets to the region to help nato monitor the skies. events all so alarming, president obama gave a hastily-prepared warning to the russians, to send their troops back to barracks. >> in 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders. >> reporter: but whatever warnings the president gave today, vladmir putin has heard them before and keeps playing this dangerous game without fear, no matter what the u.s. or the world does. the u.s. is left to react to putin's moves, which are mysterious. so much so, in the past, the pentagon has even analyzed the russian leader's body language, trying to predict what he'll do next.
all this while fresh talks here in europe between secretary of state john kerry and russia's foreign minister end with zero progress and increased irritation. >> having russian boots on the ground and russian tanks is unacceptable in the 21st century. and who knows the limits, tell me? >> reporter: that is the urgent question tonight. will the russians stop with just crimea? or invade further into ukraine? ignoring the calls from america and the world to stop. diane? >> martha raddatz, reporting in on the story, moment by moment. and back here at home tonight, the question of sexual assault in the military. and a big defeat for the forces trying to change the role commanders play in sexual assault investigations. kirsten gillibrand led the charge to strip the commanders of their power and instead give the power to an independent team.
what does today's defeat for her mean for the future? here's abc's cecilia vega. >> reporter: stacey thompson wanted so badly to be a marine, she enlisted before she was even 18. >> that's the thing i'll never forget. i was excited. i wanted to do this. >> reporter: but not long after she settled into her first overseas deployment in japan, she says the nightmare started. >> within the first few months, it was sexual harassment. >> reporter: the only person she could complain to, the man who was harassing her. >> i had to go to the person who did it because he was my direct chain of command. so, i had to -- >> reporter: the person who sexually harassed you? >> sexually harassed me. >> reporter: is the person that you had to make the complaint to? >> yes. that is the process of the chain of command. >> reporter: it got worse. >> my sergeant who was in my direct chain of command, who was my chain of command, ended up raping me that night. >> reporter: thompson and other survivors have taken their fight to washington.
>> it's not whether anyone in this chamber trusts the chain of command. the people who do not trust the chain of command are the victims. >> reporter: but today, they were dealt a major blow, when the senate blocked a bill that would have stripped military commanders of their authority to prosecute sex assault cases. and instead, give the power to special military prosecutors. the military's top brass opposed the bill, arguing commanding officers must be allowed to police their own ranks. according to the pentagon, there were 5,400 reported cases of sexual assault last year. a 60% jump from the year before. and this extraordinary number. 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact. cases that are rarely prosecuted. but the culture of silence slowly being shattered as more survivors speak out. >> the treatment that i received after that was that it was my fault. >> if you say something, your career is over. >> reporter: as for stacey thompson, she is no longer a member of her beloved marine
corps. she says she'll still keep fighting for change. today's vote was not the final word on military sexual assault. the senate did vote to move ahead on more modest reforms. but stacey thompson says more victims will continue to stay in the shadows unless the military's reporting structure changes. diane? >> thanks so much. cecilia vega. and now, we are taking a deeper look, tonight, at the story behind those harrowing pictures. the mother who drove her minivan full of children into the ocean, before strangers came to their rescue. so, what could police have done before it happened? and could anyone have stopped her? here's what abc's steve osunsami found out. >> reporter: this heart-pounding scene on the beach. >> that's different. >> reporter: it looked like the mother driving into the ocean was trying to drown herself, her three young children, and her unborn child. and today, we're learning that 32-year-old ebony wilkerson may have been a woman in crisis. >> she's having psychosis or
something or postpartum. >> reporter: this was her sister in florida calling 911 before wilkerson made that drive. >> what is she doing? >> she's talking about jesus. and that there's demons in my house. and that i'm trying to control her. but i'm trying to keep them safe. >> reporter: the men with the fast feet and strong arms who rescued her children say she looked mentally disturbed. watch closely. she's fighting with them in the surf. >> when i was speaking to her, her eyes were like -- >> reporter: just wide. >> wide. >> reporter: we're learning a daytona beach police officer pulled the mother over with the kids inside about two hours before she reached the beach. and he let her go. police saying there was nothing more they could do. it was clear during my conversation that wilkerson was suffering from some sort of mental illness. but she was lucid and did not provide any signs that met baker act requirements. the baker act is florida's mental health law. it says that police have to have clear, hard evidence of harm before they can take a person into custody.
medical professionals tell us wilkerson could have easily been suffering from psychiatric disorders, rare in some pregnancies. >> it could be a very dangerous combination to where they could be hearing voices. you need to die and take your kids with you. that's the only way you guys are ever going to be able to be together. and they hear this constantly. >> reporter: this time, things turned out differently. the three young children they pulled from the minivan remain safe tonight in state care. steve osunsami, abc news, daytona beach. and next, here, tonight, we take you inside a kind of power lunch, where potential candidates and presidents are tested. it's the conservative political action conference, cpac. and every speech, every jab at the democrats, can create a star. so, who came out swinging today? abc's jeff zeleny tells us. >> reporter: it's spring training for republicans. >> thank you for being here. >> reporter: senator ted cruz, mobbed by conservative activists, taking aim at his own
party. >> you want to lose elections, stand for nothing. in '06 and '08 and '12, we put our head down, we stood for nothing, and we got walloped. >> reporter: and governor chris christie, besieged by scandal, attacked president obama's leadership. >> if that's your attitude, mr. president, what the hell are we paying you for? >> reporter: a parade of republicans at the political action conference. all trying out for a bigger role. paul ryan, the last gop vice presidential candidate, offering a subtle welcome to the new stars. >> sometimes it's hard to tell who is here to start a career and who is here to serve a cause. >> reporter: republicans have their eye on the next presidential race. but their first test comes even sooner, as they try to win control of the senate this november. on stage, the lasting image of the day came from senate republican leader mitch mcconnell. brandishing a gun, as he presented an award from the national rifle association, to retiring senator tom coburn of oklahoma. a symbol of strength for a
republican resurgence. jeff zeleny, abc news, the capital. and we have a sign of a comeback in these rocky financial times. today, we learned that the net worth of all american households jumped by nearly $10 trillion last year. now at $80 trillion, a new record high. experts say the growth spurt is thanks to the stock market and the housing market on the mend. and as we count down to spring, today, the nation's top weather scientists made a big prediction about what's to come. abc's clayton sandell tells us what they see in the forecast. >> reporter: the snowstorms. the spinouts. >> whoa. >> reporter: the sub zero suffering. even freezing niagara falls. >> it has been a terrible winter. >> reporter: but next winter, we may catch a break because scientists, today, issued a watch for the return of el nino. it shows up every few years. warm, pacific waters, shifting the jet stream from the pattern we're stuck in now to one that looks more like this.
for the northeast and midwest -- winters tend to be warmer and drier. out west, places suffering years of record-breaking drought and wildfires get more rain. and in the atlantic, weather systems can be torn apart before they grow up to be hurricanes. >> the atlantic hurricane season tends to be very whimpy under el nino conditions. >> reporter: but el nino can bring more devastating cyclones to the pacific. >> a lot of the heat, then, comes out of the ocean that produces a miniglobal warming. and it has real consequences in terms of droughts and floods around the world. >> reporter: if this el nino is strong enough, soon, the record cold we've been used to could be replaced by record heat. clayton sandell, abc news, denver. and now, we take you to the trial of olympian oscar pistorius, accused of killing the beautiful woman by his side. it was an emotionally-charged day. the man they call blade runner,
in tears. abc's hamish macdonald in south africa bringing us the headlines from today. >> reporter: diane, oscar pistorius, considered a hero by so many, sat crying today, holding rosary beads. at times, looking physically sick. as we heard a detailed, graphic account from a witness about the night pistorius killed reeva steenkamp. oscar pistorius and reeva steenkamp were south africa's most glamorous couple. young, rich and beautiful. their future looked bright. >> he said, i shot her. i thought she was a burglar. and i shot her. >> reporter: johan stipp, a former military doctor, a neighbor to pistorius, was among the first on the seen, when steenkamp was shot. he arrived to find a woman's body, slump, lifeless, with pistorius by her side. >> he had his left hand on her right groin. and his right hand, the second and third fingers in her mouth. >> reporter: the star athlete was trying to keep the airway
open. >> he was making promises to god. he was trying to, i don't know, maybe get atonement. >> reporter: listening to this, pistorius is sobbing. at one point, he looks physically sick. and the guard passes him a bag. in his hands are rosary beads. today is the anniversary of his mother's death. oscar, how are you feeling after hearing that testimony? how are you feeling, oscar? even before he met the model, it was clear he was destined for big things. >> i never encountered anything i couldn't do due to the fact i had prosthetic legs. >> reporter: this is a man who has overcome enormous odds before. but he killed the woman he says he loved and is now trying to prove it was not murder. hamish macdonald, abc news, pretoria, south africa. and up next, tonight, most wanted. a new hunt for a possible serial killer in a washington suburb. why police are warning an entire city to keep the doors locked, tonight.
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for my pain, i want my aleve. ♪ [ male announcer ] look for the easy-open red arthritis cap. next, tonight, the manhunt for a possible serial killer in the suburbs of washington, d.c. police looking for clues in three unsolved murders with striking similarities. abc's david kerley on the evidence that may connect the dots. >> reporter: it was broad daylight. a knock on the door. when the door was open, he started shooting. longtime neighborhood piano teacher ruthann lodato killed. that was a month ago. and tonight, evidence her killing may be linked to two others, meaning a serial killer could be at work in this washington, d.c. suburb. >> the similarities and unusual nature of all three shootings occurring in alexandria require the police department to consider possibility that all the cases are linked together. >> reporter: the similarities?
lodato killed in february. in november, a local transportation official gunned down. and ten years ago, a real estate agent and wife of the sheriff also shot and killed. all three involved in their community, all gunned down in their homes in broad daylight. all three killed within two miles of each other. tonight, police say forensics show similarities in the bullets used in all three killings. but they won't go as far as saying they came from the same gun. but those bullets do have the same general characteristics and are similar in design. so, the search is intensifying for a suspect and a motive. >> he believes in his mind that these three people represent the city of alexandria. and the city has wronged him. and he's going to make it right. >> reporter: a bearded and balding white man is who they are looking for. police have gotten 500 tips but no arrests. so, a warning to residents. >> do not open your door to strangers. >> reporter: a stranger, possibly a serial killer, on the loose. david kerley, abc news, washington. >> and by the way, police are receiving a lot of tips.
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>> captain on the bridge. >> you can see the incoming ship. >> we're talking about "star trek," and "the hangover part iii." they were both filmed in california. and did you know, that is increasingly rare. we learned, today, that big budget films are fleeing california at such a rate, only 2 of the top 25 big-budget films were shot there because of cost. so, where is the new hollywood? well, more big-budget films are now shot in louisiana than los angeles. and even canada is home for as many films as california. and a national food obsession has an anniversary today. we're talking about the buffalo chicken wing, which turns 50. legend has it a family in buffalo, new york, ran a small restaurant and received a case of chicken wings by mistake. the mom, going to use them for soup until her son asked for a late-night snack. so, she put them in the deep fryer and tried to dress them up with hot sauce and blue cheese. and 50 years later, here we all
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our commitment to current and former military members and their families is without equal. and finally tonight, a career filled with success stories. every week, gloria campos of our dallas affiliate wfaa made it her mission to find families for hundreds of children in foster care. she retires tomorrow after 30 years. and last night, on live tv, a surprise and tearful thank you. abc's john donvan and the woman who is "america strong." >> reporter: gloria campos became a dallas institution the only way it can be done. by treating her job as more than just a job.
for more than 20 years, starting in 1989, she had the wednesday's child beat, which each week she brought viewers the story of another kid in foster care, which makes for a lot of weeks. a lot of kids. 350 it is estimated, 75% of whom found adoptive families because of her reporting. >> and we know gloria campos has made a difference. >> reporter: as part of an in-studio tribute this week, they told the story of one particular wednesday's child. he was 8 years old when she featured him, a boy named keonte, a well-spoken kid. >> i do good in school. >> right. and are you friendly or are you shy? >> yes, i'm friendly. i'm friendly. >> reporter: and an adoption resulted. but as sometimes happens, it didn't work out. at 10 he told gloria -- >> i've been moved through different homes. and the adoption didn't go very well. >> reporter: but this second appearance led to a second adoption and this one took. here is keonte with his parents. he is 14 now. and gloria was on the set when they showed that picture, a
pleasant surprise. but then, this. one kid's thanks. >> oh, my god. oh, no. >> reporter: but it could be hundreds. when your job is more than just a job. >> it's good to see you. >> thanks for believing in me. >> i'm happy that you're happy. you are, right? >> yeah. i'm happy. >> and you love your family? >> yes. >> reporter: because that is "america strong." john donvan, abc news, washington. >> and all of your friends at abc salute you, gloria. and we thank you for watching. "nightline," later. i'll see you again tomorrow. good night. tonight a cold case, authorities now think all six women were killed by the same person. >> also tonight $9 billion take over of the safeway supermarket chain. >> and a new election year plan to give oakland an economic boft. the mayor coming under fire for
it. >> and the vessel known as the google barge now docked in a new location. >> these six women lost their lives at the hands of a cold blooded killer, thanks for joining us. i'm cheryl jennings >> and all of the years later they're putting together a task force of evidence that may connect to another killing that same year in reno. >> reporter: operation is called gypsy hill task force named after a road in pacifica. beginning next week, fbi and law enforcement will knock on doors and canvas the
the two former detectives from south san francisco investigated one of the murders they wish there would have been dna technology back then. >> we're ignorant of the facts. and perhaps, if we had a better disposal, we could have done more back then. >> all killed between january and april, 1976. 18-year-old veronica casillo. her body dumped at shark park golf course, she was stabbed 32 times, and raped. 14-year-old tonya blackwell, her body found in gypsy hills area of pacifica. she was also stabbed to death. her wounds almost identical to casillo's. 17-year-old paula baxter, last